WHEN Kate Brown started her first job she was paid the living wage even though she was just 17-years-old and had little experience.

Now content manager for an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Edinburgh, she says she wouldn’t dream of working for a company that doesn’t pay the living wage.

Brown, who works for The Gate, is typical of many talented employees who are becoming increasingly selective about the companies they wish to work for.

“When I joined The Gate I was taken on as a trainee straight out of school and it was so refreshing to be told I would be paid the living wage and not just the minimum wage,” said Brown.

“It really changed my view on things and now I wouldn’t think of working for a company that isn’t committed to paying the living wage as a minimum to all of its staff. It made a huge difference to me at the time and enabled me to move out of home and find a place to rent. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do that otherwise.”

One of Scotland’s most established agencies with a strong track record of delivering results for their clients, The Gate has been in business since 1990 and now has 28 staff in Scotland as well as offices in London.

The company works across a diverse client base that includes some of the UK’s largest companies such as SSE and National Accident Helpline, the UK and Scottish Governments, and more locally, smaller Scottish based organisations such as The Rock Trust, the Edinburgh-based homeless charity.

“We believe in social good and the power of ideas and communication to make the world a better place,” said Helen Hourston, of The Gate.

“We have always had strong connections with our local community and we believe it is important to be a responsible employer – that’s why we are committed to being a living wage employer.

“It’s not just about being a good employer though, the benefits extend way beyond those that our staff receive. There are wider economic benefits that come from increased wages as people are more able to spend which in turn drives wider growth while at the same time reducing poverty and the need for public support. Paying the living wage isn’t just good for our people, it’s good for our business, the wider community and ultimately for taxpayers.”

She added: “There is no reason why more companies shouldn’t be paying the living wage. It sets you apart. It means you stand for something important and tells your employees and future employees that they matter, and that we care about them. It’s important as a business to have those kind of human values.”

Paying the living wage does not just affect those employed directly by The Gate as the company has ensured that key suppliers pay the living wage too.

“For example, we have pushed the company who has the contract for our cleaning to commit to paying their staff the living wage,” explained Hourston. “That way we can feel comfortable and confident that the cleaning staff that come to our office every day are paid a fair wage for the work that they do and can afford to live.

“The same goes for any students, or young people, that come in for work experience. Ensuring they are all paid the living wage as a minimum goes a long way to ensuring we can attract the best talent in the future.”